Arkansas Traveler, The (fiddle recitation)

DESCRIPTION: A series of remarks between a traveller and an Arkansas farmer, interspersed with fiddle playing. The traveller will ask a question (e.g. "Say, farmer, where does this road lead?"), the farmer will answer unhelpfully ("to the end") and fiddle
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1847
KEYWORDS: fiddle recitation nonsense humorous
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,SE,So)
REFERENCES (17 citations):
Randolph 346, "The Arkansas Traveler" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 284-287, "The Arkansas Traveler" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 346)
BrownIII 330, "Arkansas Traveler (I)" (1 fragment)
FSCatskills 90, "The Arkansas Traveller" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
JHCox 179, "The Arkansaw Traveller" (1 text)
JHCoxIIB, #34, p. 210, "The Arkansaw Traveler" (1 tune with a description of the conversation between fiddler and traveler but no actual text)
Rosenbaum, pp. 106-107, "Arkansas Traveler" (1 text, 1 tune)
RJackson-19CPop, pp. 10-13, "The Arkansas Traveller" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 267-271, "The Arkansas Traveller" (1 text, 1 tune)
JonesLunsford, pp. 189-190, "The Arkansas Traveler" (1 text)
Cohen-AFS1, pp. 357-358, "The Arkansas Traveler" (1 text)
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, pp. 216-219, "Arkansas Traveler" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fireside, p. 58, "Arkansas Traveler" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 33, "The Arkansas Traveller" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 107-108, "Arkansas Traveler"
ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II (1931), pp. 46-53, texts of both "The Arkansas Traveler" and "The State of Arkansas," with folktale variants, a reproduction of a painting of the fiddler and traveler, and background information
William E. Studwell and Bruce R. Schueneman, _State Songs of the Unites States: An Annotated Anthology_, The Haworth Press, 1997, pp. 23-24, "(The Arkansas Traveller)" (1 text, tune on pp. 84-85)

Roud #3756
RECORDINGS:
Arkansas Woodchopper [pseud. for Luther Ossenbrink] & his Square Dance Band, "Arkansas Traveler" (OKeh 06296, 1941)
The Blue Ridge Duo [possibly a pseudonym for George Reneau?], "Arkansas Traveler" (Edison 51422, 1924)
Boone County Entertainers [Red Fox Chasers], "Arkansas Traveller" (Supertone 9163, 1928)
Fiddlin' John Carson, "Arkansas Traveler" (OKeh 40108, 1924)
H. N. Dickens, "The Arkansas Traveller" (on Stonemans01)
Jess Hillard, "Arkansas Traveller" (Champion 16333, 1931)
Earl Johnson & his Dixie Entertainers, "Earl Johnson's Arkansas Traveller" (OKeh 45156, 1927)
Uncle Dave Macon, "Arkansas Travellers" (Vocalion 15192, 1926)
Clayton McMichen & his Georgia Wildcats, "Arkansas Traveler" (Melotone [Canada] 93031, 1933)
Clayton McMichen & Dan Hornsby [or McMichen's Melody Men], "The Original Arkansas Traveler, pts. 1 & 2" (Columbia 15253-D, 1928)
New Lost City Ramblers, "The Arkansas Traveller" (on NLCR16)
Steve Porter, "Arkansas Traveller" (Pathe 20670, 1921)
[Steve] Porter & [Ernest] Hare, "Arkansas Traveler" (Edison 51010, 1922) (Grey Gull 4112, 1927)
George Reneau, "Arkansas Traveler" (Vocalion 14813, 1924)
Pete Seeger, "Arkansas Traveller" (on PeteSeeger07, PeteSeeger07b)
Jilson Setters [pseud. for James W. "Blind Bill" Day], "Arkansaw Traveler" (Victor 21635, 1928)
Hobart Smith, "Arkansas Traveler" (Disc 6079, 1940s)
Harry Spencer (probably w. Charles d'Almaine, fiddle), "The Arkansaw Traveler" (Columbia 21, 1901; Harvard 21, c. 1903; Columbia A406, 1909 [anonymous]; Oxford 21, c. 1911; Silvertone 21 [anonymous], c. 1915)
Len Spencer, "The Arkansaw Traveler" (Victor 1101, 1902; Victor 16199-A, c. 1909) (CYL: Edison 8202 [as "The Arkansas Traveler"], 1902) (CYL: Edison [BA] 3745 [as "The Arkansas Traveler"], n.d.)
John Stone, "Arkansas Traveler" (AFS 3372 B2, 1939; in AMMEM/Cowell)
Gid Tanner & Riley Puckett, "Arkansas Traveller" (Columbia 15017-D, 1925; rec. 1924.)
Gordon Tanner, Arthur Tanner, Art Rosenbaum & Larry Nash, "Arkansas Traveler" (on DownYonder)
Tennessee Ramblers, "Arkansas Traveller" (Brunswick 225, 1928; Supertone S-2083, 1930)
Unidentified artists (possibly Len Spencer) "Arkansaw Traveler" (CYL: Everlasting 1399, n.d.)
J. D. Weaver "Arkansas Traveler" (OKeh 45016, 1925)

SAME TUNE:
[Len] Spencer & [Ada] Jones, "Return of the Arkansaw Traveler" (CYL: Albany Indestructable/Columbia 3108, c. 1910)
Len Spencer, "Return of the Arkansas Traveler" (CYL: Edison 10356, 1910)
Gid Tanner & his Skillet Lickers, "New Arkansas [Arkansaw?] Traveller" (Columbia 15623-D, c. 1931)
NOTES: Randolph says "Both words and music are usually credited to Colonel Sandford C. Faulkner [d. 1875]"; Allsop mentions Faulkner's name but also mentions other possibilites. The sheet music in Jackson is credited to one Mose Case, but we know how reliable such claims are. - RBW
Usually the fiddler only plays the "A" part of the tune; at the end of a few versions the traveller plays the "B" part, and the two become friends.
This was a popular minstrel-show sketch in the 1900s, pitting the smart country man against the city slicker.
The [Folksinger's Wordbook] text turns one of the classic jokes from the spoken skit into sung verses. Frustratingly, they give no sources, so the origins of this version are unknown. The chords given are not the usual chords played with the tune. They're probably from the Fireside Book of Folk Songs; those words are credited to one David Spencer. I have found no indication that he is any relation to Len or Harry Spencer. -PJS
Last updated in version 4.0
File: FSC090

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.